Testimoniando El Presente under COVID-19: A pedagogical reflection on the Testimonio essay assignment

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Springer Nature


Grounding this reflexive essay within the context of COVID-19, the academic institutional response, and associated challenges with online teaching, I describe the development of an assignment that leveraged testimonio as a pedagogical resource to foster a sense of community among college students within the context of an online learning community. I describe the Testimoniando El Presente essay assignment, which students were encouraged to complete as way for them to process and document their own and their families’ and/or communities’ experiences of loss, amid the public health and unjust conditions under COVID-19. The Testimonio assignment called for students to connect course content, concepts, and theories in Latinx studies in order to process and practice the act of testimoniar el presente. The intentions of the assignment were to encourage students to engage with community stories under the pandemic and to develop their critical thinking and writing. Furthermore, and equally important, was to facilitate a sense of community grounded in LatCrit theory through a reflexive writing exercise: the Testimonio assignment.

In offering my reflections on the assignment—from its development to its implementation and implications—it is my intention that educators, especially those grounded in LatCrit theory, will turn to the discipline of Latinx studies for guidance and sabiduria as they adjust their pedagogy to online platforms. Specifically, how we can leverage the multidisciplinarity of Latinx studies as a field, along with our communities’ strengths, to guide us in our pedagogical praxis of teaching–learning via critically reflexive dialogues, like testimonio, and in community with others. I conclude with a reflection on the possibilities, and the challenges, of utilizing testimonio to contend with and uplift our communities and ourselves en el presente.